Cowboys DT Named ‘Breakout Candidate’ After Quiet End to 2023 Season

After flashes of brilliance during the 2023 season, one Dallas Cowboys defender is now being projected for a significant step up in 2024. Cowboys fans have already gotten to know DT Osa Odighizuwa, but the analysts at PFF think he could be introducing himself on a national level soon.

In a recent article picking “breakout candidates” for the 2024 season, Odighizuwa is named for the Cowboys. The blurb mentions the 25-year-old’s hot start in 2023, and that he was still being graded well despite his production dropping.

“Odighizuwa managed just three sacks on the year — all within the first two weeks of the season — and has never finished with more than four in a year,” the January 26 article reads. “However, he also finished as the 15th-highest-graded interior defensive lineman (81.4) with the 12th-best PFF pass-rush grade (80.0). He should deliver even bigger sack numbers in future seasons as long as he continues to produce the strong underlying metrics that he has continued to build upon in his NFL career.”

Odighizuwa has provided another pass-rushing threat for an already-stacked Cowboys defensive line. While Micah Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence earn the plaudits on the edge, Odighizuwa is disrupting from the interior.

Odighizuwa’s Career So Far

Even earning a few sacks a season as a defensive tackle is big, and Odighizuwa has done it twice. The former UCLA Bruin has 7 sacks over the last two campaigns, and he’s contributing elsewhere too.

Pro Football Reference states that he totaled 9 tackles for loss in 2023. For context, only Parsons and Lawrence had more on the Cowboys roster. And while it was disappointing that he did not earn a sack after Week 2, he was still credited with 13 QB hits.

It’s difficult for 6’2″, 280-pound to land sacks on modern quarterbacks. Instead, what teams really want to see is a player push interior lineman back into the pocket. If a QB can’t step up into his line to make throws, he’s going to have a hard time.

Odighizuwa has provided that so far. But if PFF’s grades and analysis are correct, he could be due for a monstrous season in 2024.

Cowboys DT Entering Final Year of Contract

One of the reasons 2024 could be a breakout campaign for Odighizuwa is that it will be a contract year. He will be a free agent in 2025 after completing the fourth year of his rookie deal, and he will be looking to maximize his second NFL contract.

That being said, the Cowboys could look to reward him early and potentially save money in the process. Odighizuwa has looked the part in his first three years, but hasn’t broken out yet.

The primary problem with doing that is the cap space situation. Dallas is currently $11.5 million over the 2024 cap limit, but player releases and restructures will help. But considering the need to pay players like WR CeeDee Lamb, contracts like Odighizuwa’s aren’t the priority.

Either way, it creates an interesting situation both the Cowboys and the defensive tackle. He’s got plenty to play for, and Dallas has plenty to consider ahead of the 2024 season.

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